The Free Democratic Party (Arabic: الحزب الديمقراطي, French: Parti Libéral Démocrate) or the FDP in short, is a political party in the Kingdom of North Syria. The FDP is a right-wing and center-right party, and is one of North Syria's oldest political parties.
It is currently headed by Muhsin el-Hussein, who is the current Prime Minister of the Kingdom of North Syria who led the party to victory in the 2011 and 2016 federal elections.
Muhsin el-Hussein, a native of Syria, founded the Free Democratic Party in 2010, from the militant group that he led known as the "Free Democratic Army" or the FDA. This is one of the many militant groups that would form one of the earliest of the North Syrian Armed Forces. Muhsin el-Hussein was sympathetic towards Bashar al-Assad, and had hoped that King Fahad would have good relations after the Kingdom gained its independence.
El-Hussein led the party to a victory on November 1, 2011, the constitutional monarchy's first-ever federal elections, in which he would emerge to be the new Prime Minister of North Syria. Princess Razia bint Fahad, the King's third daughter had tried to reach out to El-Hussein and his group to discuss would Laws would be best for the nation. While El-Hussein listened, he took none of their considerations and personally traveled around the newly-formed nation to gain people's opinions on what should become law.
The party silently opposed the Peaceful Citizens Act, which called for the total confiscation and destruction of all civilian firearms, despite earlier promises by the King that the populace would remain armed as a mean of protection from tyranny and outside invasions. At this point, a level of distrust between the King and Muhsin's party boiled. However, because of the Royal Constitution, King Fahad couldn't really stop the Free Democratic Party.
The party introduced Bill NS-16, which would make English the co-official to Arabic. However, the Upper Court rejected the bill, and ordered that French will be the co-official. The party was also opposed to the presence of Turkish migrant communities in the north. Muhsin el-Hussein introduced Bill NS-17 in 2012, which would limit migrations and build a wall on North Syria's northern borders. However, again the bill was rejected in the Upper Court. That same year, Princess Razia formed the Progressive Party to challenge Muhsin el-Hussein's leadership.
One of the most surprising and biggest achievements of the Free Democratic Party in 2015 was the abolishing of the Peaceful Citizens Act, which finally re-legalized firearms ownership in the Kingdom. Muhsin el-Hussein said that he plans on competing in the 2016 federal elections to run for a second term as Prime Minister. The FDP also passed the Income Protection Act, which lowered income taxes, as well as sales taxes on 5%. In addition, the FDP also passed the Hookah and Tobacco Protection Act, lowering the taxes and restriction on alcohol and tobacco products.
In 2015 through 2016, the FDP had come under heavy criticism and attacks from left-wing and international political pundits. Muhsin el-Hussein ran for a second term, leading the FDP. He was expected to lose in a landslide against Razia bint Fahad who led the Progressive Party. However, El-Hussein and the FDP won the election, taking 86 out of 200 seats in the Lower Court.
Nonetheless, Razia and the Progressive Party, as well as other left-wing groups in the country have continued the resistance, accusing El-Hussein and the FDP of rigging the election. Razia has also accused Donald Trump, the Republican candidate and eventual winner of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections of influencing the North Syrian election.
Political and Social stances
The Free Democratic Party has emerged to be considered a right-wing party at most, or center-right at the least. The party stresses in the policies of being fiscally conservative, economically liberal and socially conservative.
Protection of Arab and Levantine Heritage
The Free Democratic Party opposes multiculturalism, and espouses some elements of Arab nationalism. Its supporters believe that Arabic should be the sole official language, if not English, rather than French being a co-official. The FDP also supports Aramean nationalism, supporting the rights of Aramaic-speaking Christians. Despite wanting to preserve Arabic culture and heritage in North Syria, Muhsin el-Hussein has acknowledged Syriac Christians as non-Arabs, and high ties to Syriac-speaking leaders. This suggests that they adopt more of a national conservative stance over an Arab nationalist one.
The FDP has been criticized, mainly by its left-wing opponents as well as Turkish-North Syrians, of its anti-Turkism seniments. Ahmed Sheikh Abdulqader, the current governor of Latakia and a member of the Free Democratic Party was criticized for calling Turks "the virus of the Muslim World". Muhsin el-Hussein currently does not share North Syria's positive attitudes towards Turkey, and has passed many bills trying to limit and/or restrict Turkish migration to North Syria. Princess Razia called the FDP "racist scums".
The FDP unsuccessfully challenged a bill proposed by the Progressive Party that would make Turkish co-official to Arabic and French, the bill received Royal Assent on November 20, 2015 and Turkish became the third official state language.
Muhsin el-Hussein has been a supported of Aramean nationalism, and the revival of Aramaic language in North Syria. In 2014, the Free Democratic Party proposed Bill NS-30, this would make Syriac the third official language of North Syria. However, due to heavy opposition, lead primarily by supporters of the Progressive Party, the bill failed to pass an Upper Court hearing.
Hookah, Tobacco and Alcohol
The FDP opposes what they refer to as "draconian" restrictions on hookah, tobacco and alcohol, arguing that North Syrians should retain the right to consume them for recreational purposes. They were successful in lowering the taxes for hookah and tobacco from 15% to 7%. Muhsin el-Hussein stated that non-Muslims in the Kingdom should enjoy the right to serve alcohol in their homes or bussinesses.
In 2015, the Free Democratic Party was successful in abolishing the Peaceful Citizens Act, making firearms as well as combat knives and swords legal to own for self-defense once more in the Kingdom. Many of its members had admitted to keeping illegal guns during the days of the Peaceful Citizens Act. Muhsin el-Hussein is also a member of the National Shooting Sports Association, the Kingdom's gun lobby.
Muhsin el-Hussein stated that he would rather be an ally of Russia than an enemy, and stating that he was willing to mend the severed relations between North Syria and Russia. He also had been learning to speak Russian. On October 1, 2015, Muhsin el-Hussein became the first North Syrian to go on a state visit to Russia, and he addressed the people in Russian language, not Arabic, French or English. El-Hussein states that he supports working with Russia to combat the Islamic State, garnering criticism for saying the West failed to do anything about them. The FDP is the only pro-Russia political party in North Syria. King Fahad has become really concerned with what he referred to as "Russophilia" and had no place in the Kingdom.
Muhsin el-Hussein is also a supporter of capital punishment for dangerous criminals and terrorists. This was evident during many of Indonesia's cases, with Filipina drug smuggler Mary Jane Veloso, and the execution of five North Syrians found guilty of raping Indonesian women and assaulting a Christian man in Jakarta.
On the issue he said, "You see, criminals are criminals, terrorists are terrorists. The first group, I don't know if capital punishment may be the best, really depends on what they did and if they are prove to be a danger to public safety. The second group however, do not deserve second chances. The goal and intent of terrorists is to kill civilians and cause mayhem, be it for political or religious reasons. They show no compassion or mercy, guess what, they deserve neither."